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Carbon Steel Knife Care – Kitchen and Outdoor Knives

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In this video, Walter Sorrells talks about caring for carbon steel knives. He shows some easy ways to protect carbon steel knives so they’ll last a lifetime. The focus of the video is mainly on kitchen knives, but the knowledge does extend to other kinds of blades like outdoor knives.

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The first tip is not to leave a carbon steel knife out to sit in the kitchen after use. Instead, clean the knife with hot water and a bit of dishwashing liquid right after use, wipe it down, and then return it to the knife block. If you have to work with the knife multiple times while cooking, just be sure to have a towel nearby to wipe of after every use.

What if you take care of your knives and it still rusts? Sorrells says that’s fine. In fact, it’s absolutely normal. When it comes to carbon steel, rust is actually your friend, because when you see rust, it means that your carbon steel knives are developing a patina – a coating over the steel that prevents it from rusting. According to Sorrells, patina is what you want on your kitchen knives. It takes time to develop patina, but once it does, you’ll be left with some really reliable blades.

So what do you do when you see that a knife has rust? When you have a knife with rust on it, you should plunge the blade (not the handle) into hot boiling water for about ten minutes. After ten minutes, take it out of the water and scrub it off with steel wool and a little dishwashing soap. What you should see is that some of the red rust has turned into a darker patina. Just remember not to go overboard with the scrubbing!

For outdoor knives that you don’t use for food, you could use machine oils to clean carbon steel. That’s pretty much all you need to maintain non-kitchen knives – just keep them oiled.

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